Several years ago, I was leading my team through a book study for our monthly staff meetings where we’d read and discuss, in chapter-by-chapter format. I chose Warren Wiersbe’s, “50 People Every Christian Should Know.” And, yes, I would recommend it.
His writing so connected with me that one morning before our 9 o’clock staff meeting, I decided to call Warren Wiersbe. No, we were not life-long friends. No, we had never even met. And, no, I didn’t have his number. But, Google did. I called, and to my great surprise and pleasure, a friendly voice answered,
“Hi, I’m calling for Warren Wiersbe.”
“Mr. Wiersbe, you don’t know me, but I wanted to call and talk with you about one of your books we’re reading. And, I’m not here to try to sell you anything; just share my appreciation with you if you have a minute.”
“Oh, that’s good because I’m probably not buying anything right now, anyway.”
I laughed at his pleasant demeanor as he talked with someone completely unknown to him, yet made me feel like I had called an old friend who wanted to catch up on things. What followed was a brief phone call that made my day. Some insights gained and applied at that moment are especially helpful as we lead, and are led, during these extraordinary days of ministry.
He let me in. It would not have been uncommon to let the answering machine take the call, but he answered instead. At the time, it seemed very natural to talk with him. There was an openness. Wiersbe authored over 500 books, pastored Moody Chapel in Chicago, hosted “Back to the Bible” radio broadcasts for years and yet was willing to spend time on a phone call with a total stranger. I am even more impressed today than then.
My takeaway then, and especially now, is to be accessible to people in our circle of influence. It has been said that some people make you feel like you are in the presence of someone important. Others will make you feel like you are important. To truly be accessible is to be open to the spirit of God drawing our attention to others.
He paid attention to what I was saying. He could have launched into old war stories about ministry and I would have listened eagerly. But, he listened to me. I told him we had re-titled his book – since so much of his writing centered around the influence of Dwight Moody – to “The Life and Times of D. L. Moody and 49 other people.” He laughed and said he liked that. Lord, grant me the ability to truly listen when people speak and not just plan my response for when they take a breath.
I asked him, in closing, if he had a word to share with my staff. He replied, “I would tell them what I tell a lot of preacher boys that come by to visit. Preach, pray and keep plugging away.” When I told my staff, they looked surprised that Warren Wiersbe would have shared a word of encouragement with them. There was nothing profound in his words … or maybe there was. Simplicity is often the most profound thing we can share. The reminder for me is to be ready to share. Whenever the call comes. Share time, share laughter, share hope.